In life, you may have heard phrases similar to “go with the flow.” Two sayings that come to mind are, “just roll with the punches” and “let it be.” This approach is a core principle in Taoist philosophy, termed “yielding.” The meaning implies letting things in life give way without resistance or force. The goal is to accept what happens to you and not get worked up over situations you can’t control. By adopting the approach of learning to go with the flow, you’ll grow more carefree. Sometimes, we face challenges or find that things aren’t going our way. As you master your emotions and stop overreacting, life becomes more enjoyable.
Yield and Become Whole is Chapter 22 in The Tao Te Ching: Backward Down the Path. Author Jerry Dalton interprets and paraphrases the concept for those new to Taoism. “Yield and overcome. Be flexible, and you will straighten, after the external stress is removed. Empty yourself of your self and you will be filled by the Tao process.” When you go with the flow and let things happen, naturally, you become “whole.”
Taoism encompasses nature and often uses the element of water to help gain insight. John Heider uses the comparison in Chapter 8 of The Tao of Leadership. “From watching the movements of water, the leader has learned that in action, timing is everything. Like water, the leader is yielding. Because the leader does not push, the group does not resent or resist.” Heider shows that processes run smoother when you don’t go against the tide and force things.
Also, when you learn to have no expectations in life, you can conquer obstacles easier. Not expecting anything applies to all aspects and challenges in life. The Tao of Learning addresses acquiring knowledge and teaching. Author Pamela Metz writes, “Learn to teach in a nurturing way. Learn to teach without possessing. Learn to help with no expectations. Teaching without trying to control – this is a great challenge.” When you go with the flow and possess compassion, things come naturally. Metz also recognizes that teaching yourself to live this way is difficult.
Going with the flow in Taoism also applies as things change even in moments of chaos. Looking at the Yin and Yang, or opposites, embrace silence and stay still in times of change. Ray Grigg discusses this in his book, The Tao of Being. Chapter 16 is titled The Unchanging in the Changing. He writes, “Within everything there is something empty and full, something silent and still. Who knows what it is? It belongs, and yet it does not belong.”
Looking at the past, present, and future, Taoism focuses on living in the now. Instead of holding onto the past, let it go, and don’t try to control your destiny. Cherish good memories while learning from the bad ones. Have no expectations for the future and just take life as it comes. In The Tao of Being, Grigg writes about looking at the past and future in Chapter 28. “Cultivate the light of the known but keep to the dark of the unknown.”
Sometimes, you have moments of clarity by doing nothing and staying calm. Believe it or not, you can learn in moments of silence. As you navigate through life and its struggles, a moment of sitting back and not thinking can swing you into action. As you work your way to accept things and let go, you’ll find inner harmony and peace.